This is a special mid-week edition of my usual 10 Yard Fight column. As a 49ers fan, I should be tons more nervous for this game. But I’m too stuffed from food and live blogging this game will also help.
(Props to The City Graphics for the great design to the right. Follow his Facebook page The City Graphics.
This is a big test for both teams. For the 49ers, it’s yet another litmus test for them. Are they for real? Are they really good? Or are they just pretty good. This is the closest thing to a playoff game they’ve had since 2003.
For the Ravens, they’ve been on the better end of most games this seasons, but have also been inconsistent. Beating Pittsburgh twice, they’ve showed that they are Super Bowl contenders, but then they’ve also lost to the Jags and Seahawks and nearly lost to the Cardinals, who are all sub-par teams.
I have a feeling that since it’s the Harbowl, the postgame handshake won’t be like this:
Word on the street is that Big Play Ray Lewis is out because of his big toe.
Mike Irvin and Prime Time think the Ravens are going to win. Coach Mooch and and Marshall Faulk take the 49ers. Deion is a traitor.
13:35: The Ravens’ first pass play goes for 22 to Anquan Boldin, and just because he wanted you to know that it wasn’t a joke, they immediately go back to him for 11 more.
10:34: Patrick Willis hit the weed out of Ricky Williams who couldn’t hold onto the Joe Flacco pass.
10:21: Billy Cundiff puts the Ravens on the board with a field goal. The 49ers held strong, but the Ravens lead 3-0.
(I just heard that the Ravens haven’t allowed any points on a team’s opening drive this year. 49ers offense will have their work cut out for them all day.)
8:55: The Ravens forced Alex Smith to run on 3rd down and he lost a yard. He’s going to see his pocket break down all game long. They even clogged up where he wanted to step up in the pocket before he had to roll to his left.
(In the first three plays, they were all passes. Gore didn’t touch the ball once. Interesting choice. The Ravens are force feeding Ray Rice.)
4:59: After forcing the Ravens to go three and out, the 49ers deliver on 3rd and 2 with a pass to Vernon Davis that puts them on the Ravens side of the field for the first time all game. Of course, Vern decided to go out of bounds rather than take a hit.
1:59: Smith succumbs to the blitz on 3rd down and the David Akers kicks a 45-yard field goal to tie the game. Smith has taken a sack twice, rather than force the ball into a bad spot.
14:55: When they drop back, Flacco is picking the 49ers apart with throws to Boldin and Smith. Boldin looks like a tight end out there compared to the 49ers’ small DBs. When they run, they’re left with 3rd and long, allowing the 49ers to bring more heat. A promising Ravens drive ends in another punt.
13:57: The 49ers get called for a chop block, which wipes out a bomb for Ted Ginn that goes for a touchdown. It was a fairly ticky tack penalty for a chop block, but probably correctly called.
12:15: The 49ers have to punt after the Ravens put pressure on Smith yet again on 3rd down. Unless the 49ers want Colin Kaepernick to see playing time, they better figure out their blocking schemes.
6:15: So far, it’s a defensive struggle. The Ravens can’t run the ball. The 49ers can’t even get off a pass. It’s exactly what you would’ve expected if you’ve watched both teams.
5:58: Flacco goes deep to Smith and it’s intercepted, except Tarrell Brown gets called for pass interference. Sometimes, the game can be decided on which penalties go which way. The 49ers have a touchdown taken away from them. And now, an interception that may very well turn into a touchdown for the Ravens.
2:51: The Ravens can only kick a field goal as the 49ers hold strong on defense. Flacco tries to run up the middle out of the shotgun on 3rd down but he’s stone cold stopped. Tim Tebow he is not.
0:11: Alex Smith gets the 49ers down the field, including converting a 4th and short, until he throws a jump ball in the end zone that’s picked off. Braylon Edwards was the intended target, but he looked slow and let the Webb box him out for the play. The first half ends with the Ravens up 6-3.
11:07: Smith, who was sacked just three plays prior, connects on a 3rd and 17 to Crabtree. On this play, he’s forced out left and runs for a first down. Smith is playing with guts, but they need to protect him much better if the 49ers have a chance to move the ball at all.
7:30: After taking another sack on a jail break blitz, the 49ers have to settle for a 52-yard field goal from David Akers. The game is tied at 6.
(Neither team has thrown for 100 yards yet.)
4:30: Lee Evans just shucked Donte Whitner and pushed for a first down on a 3rd and long. I was also wondering if Lee Evans was still in the NFL. Ravens have picked up 3rd and long twice on this drive so far.
3:09: And he just picked up his 3rd conversion on 3rd and long. The Ravens are moving the football now.
0:00: That might’ve been the fastest quarter of football I can remember. The 49ers can’t get a pass rush and the Ravens have abandoned running the football. Flacco is picking them apart right now.
14:56: This won’t be Donte Whitner’s favorite game. On 3rd and goal from the 8, Flacco converts yet again, but this time in the end zone to Dennis Pitta, who was one on one with Donte Whitner, for the touchdown. It’s the first TD of the game and the Ravens now lead 13-6.
12:54: The Ravens bring heat from the right side and roll Smith into another sack, the 7th of the game. They held court and look to try and put the game away with another score.
7:58: After finally stopping the Ravens on 3rd and 1 (NaVorro Bowman knocked the urinator out of Ricky Williams on the hit), the 49ers get the ball back, but go three and out and never even come close to looking like a team that might be able to come back. A score here by the Ravens probably ices this game.
3:10: Billy Cundiff kicks another field goal which puts the Ravens up by 10. The 49ers need to go no-huddle and spread it out. Alex Smith will still probably not have enough time to throw.
1:15: Ted Ginn drops a pass on 4th down that would’ve given the 49ers a 1st down, but it goes right through his hands and this ball game is over.
The Ravens might have it better than the 49ers tonight, but at 9-2, the 49ers are still completely in control, and they’ll learn a ton from this game. The Ravens look like they should be able to play with anyone in the AFC if Joe Flacco can convert 3rd downs like he did tonight.
Ravens – 16
49ers – 6
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